Tag: Education

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Lemonade Stand

The Fujifilm X100F is now my nearly-always outdoor companion—a role iPhone 7 Plus had filled. The camera is compact and light and comfortably slings over the shoulder attached to the ONA Lima strap. Earlier today, my wife and I walked down Maryland Ave. toward The Hub plaza in Hillcrest. Along the way, we passed a lemonade stand, with some kids fundraising for the local elementary school, Alice Birney. They had already raised $60 when I snapped the pic, at 1:15 p.m. PST. Somebody paid more than the requested 25 cents a cup. Hehe.

The Featured Image is a crop of the original, which is visible below the fold. Both versions are unaltered, except for horizontal cropping to the first and straightening of both. The visual cue is different in each, though. The first is aligned vertically with the lemonade stand and the original against the house in the background. 

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iPhone for Education

Many educators won’t agree, but perhaps students will: The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom. This reality, if accepted for what it is, presents Apple opportunity to retake the K-12 market from Alphabet-subsidiary Google’s incursion and sudden success with Chromebook among U.S. schools. If the fruit-logo company doesn’t seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.

Chromebook’s educational appeal is three-fold: low cost, manageability, and easy access to Google informational services. For buy-in price, and TCO, no Apple laptop or tablet running macOS or iOS, respectively, can compete. Think differently! Providing students any kind of computer is shortsighted, by narrowly presuming that schools, or their parents, must buy something. I suggest, in this time of budgetary constraints, that educators instead use what the kids already possess (or want to) and what they use easily and quickly: The smartphone. 

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Epitaph to Chromebook

A few days ago, one of my Google+ followers, Steve Kluver, commented on an August 2014 share: “I am shopping for some more Chromebooks this Holiday Season, and found this post via G+ hashtag #chromebook search. How current is your ebook now?” He refers to Chromebook Reviews, which is available from Amazon for sale or for free reading with Kindle Unlimited. I apologized that the tome, published more than two years ago, is “way out of date”. If I’m not going to revise, I really should remove the title.

I offered to give him buying advice, which got me to thinking about Chromebook as a concept and computing edifice. While a big fan, and owner of both generations of Google-made Chromebook Pixel, my primary laptop was a MacBook Pro for most of 2016. Measure of commitment: I bought the new 15.4-inch Touch Bar model just a few weeks ago. I’ve moved on, and got to thinking about why in crafting my response. 

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Psst — Here’s What Google Wants from Android Apps on Chromebook

Your kids. Chromebook leads laptop and desktop sales through U.S. commercial channels to schools, according to NPD. Education is overwhelmingly the primary market for the computers. The institutions can’t buy enough of the thangs, for their utility and low-cost compared to notebooks running either OS X or Windows. That cost is as much about extended webapps and services from Google (or its developer partners), available for free or comparatively next-to-nothing, set against software for the other platforms.

Wrinkle in the Google firmament: iPhone and Chromebook are like water and dirt. The sediment settles unless shaken up. Sure youngsters can do all their Googly things—Docs, Gmail, Maps, Photos, YouTube, etc.—on iOS but the experience is smoother and more homogenous when mixed Android and Chrome OS. What the kiddies lack, and their educators, is a swath of useful apps like the Apple kids get. 

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Diverging from Divergent Education

As my daughter struggles to find college classes she can register for the Spring semester, I think about the Divergent series‘ faction system as a metaphor. Young adults choose to join one of five factions, and it’s a lifelong decision: Abnegation (the selfless); Amity (the peaceful); Candor (the honest); Dauntless (the brave); Erudite (the intelligent).

Many of  my daughter’s desired classes are blocked to someone outside that major field. Meaning: Her interest in learning transcends the choices available. Her chosen major is Communications, but her interests touch psychology, graphic design, human health, and neuroscience, among many other areas of study. In the trilogy, people who don’t conform, whose capabilities span several factions, are Divergent, which the reader learns later should be human normal. 

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It’s No Joke: $149 Chromebook

If Google made its big Chromebook announcement today instead of March 31st, I would think it’s an April Fools prank. Seriously? One-hundred-and-forty-nine dollar models, from Haier and Hisense, with one available from Walmart? I know some of these laptops sell for $199. But this is a new low.

Meanwhile, ASUS will, in summer, start selling something for even less: Chromebit, a $100 candy-bar size carry-all computer. Plug it into a HDMI display (say, the TV), and your Chromie lifestyle is even-more mobile. The company also will release Chromebook Flip, a tablet-convertible wannabe, sooner. Someone tell me: This isn’t a Foolie prank? 

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The Measure of Chromebook’s Success

Last year, I disputed ridiculous assertions, based on widely misquoted NPD data, that 2014 would be “year of the Chromebook”. It wasn’t. But that designation does belong to 2015—at least in the United States. Measures: Number of new models; adoption by K-12 schools; and overall sales, which are surprisingly strong. Read carefully the next paragraph.

Through U.S. commercial channels and retail, Chromebooks accounted for 14 percent of laptop sales last year, according to NPD, which released data at my request. That’s up from 8 percent in 2013. Commercial channels, largely to educational institutions, accounted for about two-thirds of 2014 Chromebook sold. Year over year, sales soared by 85 percent, and the trajectory continues to climb. 

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Google, Give Thanks!

It wouldn’t be U.S. Thanksgiving without my writing about gratitude, and why some tech company’s executives, employees, and partners should prostrate and pray “Thanks”.

This year I to Google, which continues a great run that started with Larry Page’s return as CEO in April 2011. If he’s not all smiles this Turkey Day, someone should slap that man aside the head. I could tick off a hundred things for which he should give thanks. For brevity’s sake, so you can get back to the big game and bigger bird, I select some things that might not come to mind. 

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Where the Rubber Room Meets the Road

I have a suggestion for Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City schools: Publish a teaching offenders list.

I must be a slow learner, because until Saturday I hadn’t understood New York City’s losing battle with the powerful teachers union. Once teachers achieve tenure—after 3 years—they are employed for life and damn near undismissible, even for cause. Journalism professor Samuel Freedman wrote about the situation for the New York Times two years ago: “Where Teachers Sit, Awaiting Their Fates.” I missed that one, but not Steven Brill’s shocking “The Rubber Room: The battle over New York City’s worst teachers” in Aug. 31, 2009, The New Yorker.

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Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice

Yesterday’s New York Times story, “The Gilded Age of Home Schooling“, looks at the practice from a lifestyle choice. The lead gets right to the point: “In what is an elite tweak on homeschooling—and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor—growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes”.

Well, that sure blows the hell out of homeschooling as a religious or philosophical choice. And I agree with the Times take. The tutor approach often is about lifestyle, such as people who travel. “Many say they have no argument with ordinary education—it just does not fit their lifestyle”. 

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You Are Here

Uh-oh. Young adults may know their way around MySpace, but National Geographic says they don’t know New York from Iraq. Half of 18-24 year olds can’t find New York on a map and only 37 percent know where is Iraq. Uh, don’t we have a whole lot of troops there?

Oh my. Forty-eight percent of young adults think—OMG—India is populated by Muslims! And I suppose they think the same Indians who live there are Native Americans. 

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Cogito Ergo Sum

Newsweek has ranked the top high schools. The first Maine high school, in Yarmouth, showed up 289 on the list. Cape Elizabeth high school snatched 764th place. Bangor high school came in 948. The local high school, here in Kensington, Md., ranked 648.

What makes a good high school is a good question, but it’s not the right one. I say: What makes a good education? I recall the recent study that found many graduating college students couldn’t manage basic tasks, like comparing ticket prices (ha, the real reason rock concerts cost so much!) or figuring the cost of a sandwich and a salad (ah, the real reason for the popularity of McDonald’s Dollar Menu).